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BREAKING NEWS: Scuba Scene liveaboard ablaze in Red Sea

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UPDATE: We have heard from several sources that everyone made it safely off the vessel, which is described as a ‘total loss'. Latest reports state that guests were on board, but everyone was evacuated into the zodiacs and taken to safety.

Reports are still coming in from Egypt, but it seems that luxury Red Sea liveaboard Scuba Scene is on fire.

The 43-metre vessel, which is headed up by veteran guides Elke Bojanowski and Ahmed Fadel, apparently did not have any guests on board, but we have no news reference the crew at this time.

Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editor-in-Chief Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. 30-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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Becky Archibald

Are you sure it’s the ScubaScene? What date?

Harry

Yesterday morning 19 April 2022 at around 08:00UTC.
I was in contact with someone I know who was on it, as it was happening. All were unhurt apart from some smoke inhalation.
They were 20-minutes out of harbour and were about to undertake the day-1 fire drill – ironically.

WhatsApp Image 2022-04-19 at 9.02.10 AM.jpeg
Jeremy Smith

Yes it was Scuba Scene. The staff were amazing and have been since. I just got home to the UK with their help

Becky

So glad you are safe.

Ele Ellick

Absolutely gutted to read this. Thank goodness the crew are reported safe. We were only with them a few weeks ago.

rob

the ship had no working smoking and fire detectors-management of the ship has deserted our group and tried to force us to sign clauses written in ARABIC that we would not hold ship responsible-refused to return passport unless we signed. \the \us embassy solved that shitshow
owner of ship as disappeared and management of ship has allowed us to flounder
good news-no one was injured-evacuated in harbor minutes before multiple expulsions
rob offenhartz
director
Planet Scuba-colorado

Alvin p

So very glad to hear you all made if off boat safely Rob! Let us know if anything we can do…

Raafat abo abdou

You didn’t mention that you were transferred to a 5 star hotel full board and received a pocket money 5000 EGP with free international calls and offered a dive trip on another boat or a Nile cruise.

Rob

Good evening all
i am the gentleman who “created “ all the problems for Becky by:
1- suggesting people not sign a document written in Arabic that we could read, that also included a waiver of responsibility that we would not sue the boat.
2-by telling the Egyptian “Persecutor” that I did not think he could hold my passport and me “in ransom” if we did not sign
3-asking the question if why not a single smoke detector in any cabin or common area worked
I will be glad to share the details of the incident at a later time but my question at this time is: who Raafat is? I thought I had met everyone on board but must have missed meeting Raafat. When I researched his name I find someone with a similar name that is a renowned marine engineer- did he install the engines that caused the boat to burn or perhaps the smoke alarms that did not work. Or is Raafat just a concerned scuba diver who joined this site? Or perhaps he works for the boat owner who refused to meet with the passengers after the initial incident?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter: we have 11 statements from passengers that not a single smoke detector worked: had this happened at night we would be posting our condolences on this board instead of our good wishes that all survived with only the loss of stuff.
We were certainly offered a new live aboard trip- how many of you who are divers would have taken that offer after being evacuated from a burning, sinking ship to use rental gear in a replacement ship that you had not researched?
I respect that Becky had a different experience than us- no one in my group group of 11 received phones, no one in my group received more than 1 five minute phone call at our “5 star hotel”. The boat managers denied us access to talk with the boat owner but I wonder what Becky was able to provide that allowed her to receive the items she did and the extra care given her?
Respectfully
Rob Offenhartz
Director
Planet Scuba

Peter

it seems from the other guests comments you must have been on a different boat….

Manuel

It somehow seems to me that this comes very handy…instead of having to deal with covid, fewer tourists and having to bear the immense costs of a yacht, there suddenly is a fire and a ‚total loss‘. 🤭🤔

Tony McFarlane

If you knew the team that were heading up the operation, you wouldn’t make comments like that. I’ve been diving with Elke Bojanowski for years and consider her a ‘friend’.

Kindly keep your shitty comments to yourself.

Maggie

We were all evacuated safely, from my point of view I had the bell ringing from my cabin. Myself and the rest of the guests were listed at the front of the boat and then quickly evacuated into a zodiac, The crew then evacuated into the second zodiac. Only after all of us were safe. The crew did all they could to stop the fire, they are devasted. As is the normal procedure all passports were stored in the dive managers cabin in a waterproof bag, one of the crew went to get this. Since then Elke and Ahmed have not abandoned us. We have been given good accommodation, all inclusive in a decent hotel in Hurghada. Within a few hours, everyone who had lost them, got new phones, plus an amount of cash for essentials, which is more than enough to cover basic needs in Egypt like a new set of clothes, shoes, sunglasses.
For those wishing to stay they were planning a free trip to Luxor, arranging a week’s diving for another couple, arranging free transport to shopping centres, free transfers and free international calls. They assisted us and others in arranging flights to go home. Yes there was an issue with some paperwork that the Egyptian government wanted us to sign, none of us signed the document. We were given our passport back. I for one am happy to be alive. Maggie

Raafat abo abdou

Thank you for your honesty.

Kelly

When did you receive your new phones? Was it when we got back from the shopping trip when we were supposed to meet the spokesperson and they didn’t show up?

To be fair I didn’t ask every single passenger, but of the 12 I knew that lost their phones none were replaced. Please be honest when you post, opinions are fine but facts are facts and I was NEVER given a phone. The people that did have phones that I talked to, bought their chargers with the few dollars the ship gave us. Unfortunately I had to spend that money on critical prescriptions which I wasn’t able to retrieve from my cabin. When we were on the bow of the ship for 15 minutes waiting to “drill” it would have been much better for my physical health to retrieve my critical medications.

One clarification of words…a smoke alarm and hand bell are absolutely not the same thing. There were dozens of smoke detectors. None of which went off at any point during the fire. You can hear in the evacuation video that I have the only sounds are the fear in everyone’s voices as we realized we would be forever traumatized.

Margaret Russell

I was in my cabin, I heard the bell. I got my lifejacket from my cabin (a solas lifejacket, for offshore that ensures the head is always clear of the water at all times even if you did lose conciousness).
When it became apparent the crew could not control the fire which I believe started in the engine room we were evacuated into a zodiac, calmly, effectively. The sea was rough but we all got in the zodiac without injury, due to the crew. Only when we were safely aboard did the crew start getting the other zodiac off and think about getting off themselves. The fire was getting intense, I cannot praise them highly enough, they definitely put the guest safety above their own imho.
We were all taken to Hurghada Marina where we were given drinks until the Egyption Public Prosecutor and the police/officials arrived. After statements we were given we were asked to sign, it was in Arabic. Eventually resolved no signature from us and passports back.
Also during this time phones were sourced for those that did not have one, plus various chargers. We were also given more than enough cash to go and get essentials like a set of clothes, sunglasses, sunscreen etc.,
We were then taken to a hotel in Hurghada, rooms found where we could stay on an all inclusive basis. This was all done by the end of the day.
Since then Elke & Ahmed have arranged a day trip to Luxor for those that wanted it, a weeks diving for another couple until their flight home. Myself plus a few others have had help in arranging flights home. There has been free transport to shopping centres, airport etc., I am now home, safe, well and would happily go on another liveaboard with Elke, Ahmed and the crew of ScubaScene.

Raafat abo abdou

Thank you for your honesty.
Regarding the puplic prosecuter paper declaration document that some passengers refuse to sign that document was supposed to be translated to English after the owners receive a copy of the investigation to claim lost items from the insurance.
Sorry for the misunderstanding but this document was made for the passengers and not against them.

Jeremy Smith

I was one of the guests on this boat and having spent an amazing week on it in November 2021 I could not wait to get back on this trip. I can say that we were extremely well looked after by the staff of the boat and any issues with paperwork and forms in Arabic were to do with Egyptian government officials. Within a few hours of being evacuated we were all given 5000 Egyptian pounds in cash to spend on any immediate needs like clothing, snacks etc. We were all put up in the Marriot hotel on a “Full board” basis. Phones and phone chargers (for this who had phones on them as they left the boat) were provided and access to international calling via the hotel was provided for us. Bus trips to shopping centres were provided, free trips in following days to Petra etc were offered and arranged by the staff and in all honesty I’ve never felt so looked after by a staff and crew who had also just suffered terrible loss. We were NEVER abandoned by the staff and unfortunately some of the guests could not have made life harder for everyone if they tried.

Darrell Ratliff

NO ONE CAME FOR US!!!! And we were the last ones up and out of the cabins as I was trying to hold my breath pushing through a hallway filled with smoke like it was some movie scene. Having my roommate right behind me.
My roommate Lou and I were down below in our room after breakfast. He went back for coffee and on his way back he told me that it was rather smoky off of the back of the boat. I told him sometimes the diesel smoke from the engine floating onboard can make me a little nauseous so I would wait before I went back for coffee myself. We thought nothing of it. He was organizing his things and checking his computer and I noticed out our window that we had stopped moving. I told him we are not moving and in fact we are drifting in a clockwise position and then somewhat of a counterclockwise because I could see the land as it was scrolling across the window. I said that’s really strange and I don’t understand why we’re stopping here. Then a couple minutes later I heard the anchor starting to go down. That’s when I told him I was going up top to see what was happening. When I opened the door the entire hallway was filled with heavy smoke. I told him to grab his lifevest immediately this was not a drill. He thought I must be kidding. I started yelling get your life fest and grabbed it myself and tossed it to him. We exited into the smoky hallway and worked our way up the stairs. As I was climbing higher I was wondering where everyone else was. Everyone else had already been evacuated to the front of the vessel but we had not been alarmed down below. There were no sirens whatsoever. No alarms. No bells. Neither of us heard anything. Once on top one of the crew told us to stay put as he went back down leaving us alone on top and less than 5 minutes later there was panic yelling and apparently the engine room was ablaze. Smoke was coming in all around us from every vent and area. There was what looked like a bar fridge up on the top and smoke was even coming in from behind that. I told Lou look around us there’s smoke coming out of every single hole. They started evacuating everyone and Lou and I had to slide down the front of the boat while Dave and Elky helped grab our feet so we did not have to jump.
We immediately boarded zodiac lifeboats.
But I’ve been coughing for two days and have to believe it was due to toxic smoke inhalation. Lou did not experience this but I sure did and he heard it because they made us stay together in the hotel room.

What I really want to know is what would’ve happened to us had I not opened the door to check why we dropped anchor. There was NO ONE in the hallway looking for us. There were NO BELLS and NO ALARMS ringing even as we made our way out. Not one time did I hear any ringing of a smoke alarm. Even while we were up on top waiting there was never a single alarm. Why were alarms not blaring even as this thing burned into the sea?

Had we just stayed in our cabin what would’ve happened? Would they have come looking for us? I sure as hell hope so. But why wasn’t that a priority? Everybody’s got their own version of what happened but the reality is at least I know for a fact my life and Lou‘s life was in serious danger. Because we had no idea anything was going on and no one came for us.

Regarding money, I was given the $250. As a phone list request was being made, I just asked for a charger because I was one of the rare ones who had my phone. I did not even get a charger. They gave me nothing. I was buying shoes for people. I was giving my phone to people to use. I didn’t see one single phone given to anyone. In fact they said they didn’t have the money to buy them at first. And I heard Elky say to Rob there is an issue of all of the different phone versions. So I wanna know who got a phone??? This sounds like someone is lying. All those who got a free phone please speak up. None of us in our group received a phone. I know I didn’t get a charger. I got zero. I got $250 and I lost everything that I had. No one offered me any money for a trip or a flight. I had swim trunks the shirt on my back my cell phone and thank God a couple of credit cards which I also used for other people. The 250 bucks was all I’ve been offered. No apology. Nothing. I would never ever use this company again.
Also my son uncovered the fact that Ahmed Fadel was managing another boat that caught on fire in 2019 when one woman died. Has anyone talked about that? I asked Elky if she was part of that group then and she knew about it and said she wasn’t with him then. But she was very well aware of the incident. And passengers on board then said they went through very similar things that we went through.

https://scubaboard.com/community/threads/fire-on-safari-boat-suzana-in-egypt-red-sea-aggressor.587209/page-14?fbclid=IwAR1S2w_M9OF4PWGRcib7P2gZ__LY72Yw07zljZ824ALMgTm9WND77eYQJ10

Darrell Ratliff

One of many photos and videos I took. Hard to believe I was on this vessel minutes prior. Still coughing.

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Darrell Ratliff

All my possessions burning. After paying for new flights home (as mine were not refundable) I flew to Rome and had to take a 4 hour train to Florence where I now live. I arrived at 2:30 in the morning in the rain. No taxis or Ubers available. So I had to walk 28 mins to a hotel with a trash bag on my head and was soaked.
Will All Star Live-A-Boards compensate me for my personal losses? I will be sure to post the results here. I am a US Marine Corps Vet who spent 6 months at sea during my 6 years serving. I’ve never seen or been involved in anything like this. One likely thing for certain is the owner will get a new ship from insurance.

Rob Offenhartz who led our group from Planet Scuba is a decorated 2-Purple Heart recipient War Veteran. I have great respect for this man. Had he not fought for his group for some form of entertainment, they would have all received what I have. NOTHING! The Luxor Nile Cruise was not “offered” by the boat. It was all the Rob could come up with so his people like myself who took so long to get there, spending a great deal of money and time on international flights did not have to just turn straight around and go home. After being there two days sitting in a hotel, I decided to leave. Also someone commented that we were in a 5 Star Luxury Hotel. That’s a JOKE. Apparently they don’t travel much. The Mena House Cairo was 5-Star THEY WERE GOING TO put us up at a cheap hotel until Rob fought on behalf of ALL the divers to go to the Marriott. I heard this argument. So don’t act like that was offered to us from the beginning. The trip to the Mall, the meals at the hotel, all of this were from the demands of Rob! So those who received these “full board” things need to know the only reason you got what you did was due to Rob demanding that we all be taken care of. None of it was offered.
As both US military vets, we take care of people. It’s engrained into our military training. So if you think Rob was making things difficult, you would have been in a cheap hotel for certain and not been as taken care of at all. You owe him some gratitude for fighting on your behalf. You are misinformed if you think the boat provided you all of this from the generosity of the boat owners heart. He didn’t even bother showing up after Rob requested it several times. It was Rob we should thank for fighting for all of us. And it will be Rob fighting now for the insurance company to cover at least some if not all our losses.
Thank you Rob on my behalf. And for volunteering not once but twice to go into combat on behalf of our Country. Semper Fi

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Last edited 7 months ago by Darrell Ratliff
Maggie

Just to clarify, whilst waiting at the marina and the police/officials a list with made with what people needed mobile phones or chargers. I had my mobile phone and just requested a charger. Whilst there a selection of chargers were found, as my phone battery was getting low I used it to charge my phone at that time, others were also charging phones. I made the assumption (wrongly, it now seems) that people were getting phones. When we left the Marina I handed my charger back as I had 90%. I never received a phone as I didn’t need one. I did get a charger later with some of the monies supplied, cost about 200 Egyptian pounds (£10). I personally didn’t check to see who had or had not received a phone. Hope that clarifies that point.

The next day I needed to make a couple of international calls from the hotel to confirm change of flights back and change of parking, getting car keys etc., I was never charged for these calls. There was free WiFi in the hotel and I able to do the majority of my communication via WiFi messaging.

I also remember clearly whilst at the front of the boat Elke taking a role call, realising 2 people were missing, telling us to remain at the bow whilst she went to look and shouting this info to members of the crew, along with a cabin number.

Johann Wessels

Scubascene
My wife and I were both on board when this happened.
We are happy that the crew all did their job superbly and went above and beyond to ensure the safety and safe evacuation of us all. There were 3 roll calls to make sure everybody was accounted for. First by name, then by cabin numbers and a physical body count.
The leaders remained calm and re-assuring preventing panic and chaos. The crew fought hard to contain the fire putting their lives on the line.
The utter despair on their faces after was heartbreaking to see.
The initial process of giving statements to Police, Prosecutor etc is the burocracy part and can not be blamed on the Company.
The company went into action straight away to ensure we were all safe, uninjured and the harbourmasters office supplied shelter, water, coffee and tea. We were given a warm jacket, some footwear and some emergency money for essentials. The Procecutor did ask us to write our names on the Arabic document that was our statement. No signature was requested.
Then we were booked into a good hotel with all meals included.
From there the daunting task of getting the basic clothing, personal items and medications started.
a few passengers were lucky to have a credit card or a cell phone but the majority of us had only the clothes we wore. Fortunately one of the crew managed to grab the bag with our passports that saved us all the hassle of dealing with lost passports on top of all.
The Company looked in on us twice a day trying to prioritize the needs of everybody as far as personal items, medication, essential equipment.
I appreciate that Rob was trying to negotiate the best possible deal for his group, however the demands put forward were to the wrong people at the wrong time and it took up so much time from the people that were there to help, that it took away the much needed help
and support from some of the group who’s immediate needs were more serious.
i never got the impression that we will not be cared for but realized it was a process that takes time. Making international calls were difficult though through the Marriott hotel and it prolonged our agony a little.
We thank Elke and the Scubascene team and crew for all their help and efforts to get us all home safely. They selflessly continued helping us while they also lost belongings and equipment and documents.
In the end we should all be thankful for being alive, uninjured and safe. The loss of material things is an inconvenience that can be overcome but the loss of a live is a tragedy.
I wish we had more time to get to know the crew so i could thank them in person but we salute them all and wish them well.

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